Psalms 98:2-3, 3-4, 5-6
Why did God make me? The answer according to the Baltimore Catechism: “…to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him and to be happy with Him in this life and the next.” As a child, and even years beyond, I felt the burden of those words. Although I had also been told that I was created out of love, I continued to experience a sense of servitude. What followed was the understanding that “prayer” was the means to knowledge and love of God. I must pray in order to “know” and “love” God and consequently be “happy.” The onus was on me. Consequently, my prayer often consisted of lists of requests, some reference to His glory magnified in nature and ritual communal prayer. Personal relationship was not a component of my prayer life.
The revised Catechism of the Catholic Church presents a much more wholesome picture of prayer. “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God …humility is the foundation of prayer. Only when we humbly acknowledge that ‘we do not know how to pray as we ought,’ are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer”(#2559). Prayer is a loving gift from God to us, His beloved.
Today’s readings seem to be addressing this dimension of prayer. Prayer is the manifestation of a relationship. Prayer is what God does for me. God initiates and I respond. God loved me first and from all time. God wants to love me more and more. He wants to give to me.
In the first reading Paul, speaking to the Colossians, is referring to their faith as the reason for his praying for them. Paul says that he is praying that God will gift the Colossians into a rich and personal relationship. The result of this prayerful relationship will be “knowledge and spiritual insight….You will multiply good works of every sort and grow in the knowledge of God. By the might of his glory you will be endowed with the strength needed to stand fast, even to endure joyfully whatever may come….” We recognize here the gifts of the Holy Spirit – knowledge, patience, and peace.
In the second reading, Luke demonstrates that we cannot succeed alone. Peter and the others have put in a long night of unsuccessful fishing when Jesus tells them to lower their nets again. Peter says, “…but if you say so, I will…” and they caught “a great number of fish….” Peter, recognizing the Lord, falls to his knees saying, “Leave me, Lord, I am a sinful man.” Jesus’ response is to pull Peter closer to Him saying, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will be catching men.”
Prayer is not something I do alone and for myself. Prayer is
a state of being ready and predisposed and eager and longing for the Lord
to draw me closer and more deeply into a personal relationship with the
Lord. This relationship can only end in a more fulfilling and satisfying
love of God, a deeper richer knowledge of the Lord, an outpouring of love
and service to others, and a deep sense of peace. As with Peter, Jesus
knows my sin and brokenness. Jesus wants me to know His gentle healing
love. This is the gift of the Lord. It is not something I can
earn. What I can do is sit quietly and be ready, for He will come.
The good news is that He loves me too much to keep His distance!
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